463 Misperceptions of Opposite Sex Body Image

Research by Lei, Xue & Perrett, David (2020). Misperceptions of opposite‐sex preferences for thinness and muscularity. British Journal of Psychology, 112(1), 247–264. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12451

Written by Robin N. Fatovic M.S.

Do men and women have accurate perceptions about body type preferences?

Psychology researchers showed 3D images of people with different bodies to 170 white, young adults from the UK. They had to choose images of their own sex that they preferred and believed that the opposite sex would prefer.

Results? Women preferred to be thinner than they were, men preferred to be bulkier. Women inaccurately thought men preferred thinner partners, while men inaccurately thought women preferred heavier, more muscular men. These results became more exaggerated when people rated what they thought the opposite sex desires in a short-term relationship partner rather than in a long-term relationship. Both sexes judged their ideal body of the opposite sex also as the healthiest body image. Further research is needed to determine if results hold for different cultural backgrounds.

You might have a skewed perception of the opposite sex’s preferences! Remember that participants preferred a healthy-looking body image on the opposite sex. Your body provides more than your image—it helps you function throughout life. If you find yourself questioning your appearance, switch your focus to your health and all the things that your body does for you!

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